No stranger to making exciting music, Dan Owen initially came to the limelight under the guise ‘Blues Boy Dan’. Often cited to have a voice beyond his years, his gravelly and resonant vocals and renditions of blues classics even garnered the attention and appreciation of Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. Owen’s latest E.P. ‘Open Hands and Enemies’ is, as he himself admits, a step away from the blues towards the foundation of his own voice.
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And his latest release lacks little when it comes to powerful and vulnerable lyrics. The first song of four ‘Made to Love you’ – whose chorus, the simple question ‘if I was made to love you, how come you bring me pain?’ layered over piano and acoustic guitar, admittedly errs on the side of cliché. However, it’s not the words themselves but the honesty they diffuse that cuts bone deep, almost to the point of cynicism and that bleeds through to the following tracks.
Witching Hour seems to take a step outside of the lovelorn tone of the rest of the EP, instead it narrates a score being settled; the nature of which remains ambiguous but the song is pocked with fiery imagery. The music, with the fricative interjections of synth, and piano once again, although this time more lively, lends the track a certain dynamism; congruous with the idea of somehow being out of time, ‘burning at the stake’.
Moonlight is a ballad, a dedication to an unseen muse: the ‘moonlight in the dark night, making my skin hate the sunrise’. The song is visceral and real. The instrumental background starts with a simple acoustic arpeggio that intertwines with brush strokes of strings and piano culminating in a tangible high point.
Finally, Closer brings us full circle and the contradictions of love are uttered in the lyric ‘The more you break, the more I want you’. The music breaks slightly with the tone as Owen opts for major chords and reaches for the higher notes with the vocals, meaning ‘Open Hands and Enemies’ literally ends on a high note.
In all, it seems that a music career launched by an unfortunate accident is nothing if not vindicated by Dan Owen’s latest work.
‘Open Hands and Enemies’ by Dan Owen, is out now via LAB records.